Saturday, April 19, 2008

I’m taking a blogging break until May 10. I’m getting married May 3 and I have so much to do and so many conversations to have, so much lighting to supervise and napkin folding style to decide upon – and you know, I have to admit, I love this wedding planning – I love the whole thing, the lists, the costumes, the choreographing, the seating, the big shebang, I really love it. It’s like producing the ultimate show. And I’m co-honoree and co-host, what could be better!?!

But I did want to point people towards the website I have a little show on NPR (you know I knee-jerk always say NPR, but I mean Public Radio) for Earth Day, April 22, and I’m not sure exactly how many stations are playing it – I do know it will play in Seattle, Spokane (I had to have it play there, c’mon!) New York and I haven’t checked where else yet. We are hoping this is the beginning of a regular show on Public Radio in a year or so. In any case, you can download or listen to the show for free if you go to the website.

Take care! Thanks for stopping by! If you want to chat, go to the forum (you can get there off my website – it’s hoppin’!) And I love the section where people tell who they are and what their story is, I read every one of those and I feel so lucky to have people write posts there. Do it!

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Okay, as of today, I am officially anti-Hillary. I have held out. Most people I know really can’t stand her. I was always quick to add that if she were the nominee I would support her. But after last night’s debate, how she was pushing things all out of context, I just couldn’t take it anymore. I really hate what she’s doing, and I feel her worst self is being revealed. Now, if she does become the nominee, I would vote for her. She is far better than McCain. But I am not a real supporter.

The way she is relentlessly pounding on Obama about this off-hand remark about bitter people, the way she is going after him about his pastor’s remarks, it’s just embarrassing at this point. It really made me angry.

My NPR special, “Home Sweet Earth” which is 30 minutes long, will air on several Public Radio stations on Tuesday, April 22. We are in the process of getting the website up. You will be able to download it for free from the website after Earth Day, April 22.

I can’t help it, I want to write a doctoral dissertation on “The Real Housewives of New York City.” I can’t go into it here, I am running late, but OHGOD that show. How interesting it is. How people’s memories are revealed – how inaccurate they are. I hope those women see the show and realize how they misremember things. We all do this, but it’s so stark and embarrassing on that show. On the other hand, I have affection for those women! I really do. I also read that Bethany’s boyfriend Jason was fired from his financial president of an investment company job because of appearing on the show. WOW. The thing missing from the show was how the show affected the show and the people. I mean, these women wouldn’t know each other at all except for the show. And the show obviously was pushing certain behaviors and situations. I don’t even think that’s bad, but it’s part of the show too – the show. There is something deep and witty there I cannot think of right now because I’m running late. More later… Oh! And the Pope! What about the Pope and Bush?!? And how they hate "Relativism." Yes, for them, making the world black and white, good and bad, keeps them in business.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

I went to Café Press and I ordered an Obama sticker for my car. I guess that’s it. I’m in for Obama. I actually loved what he said about bitter people turning to religion and guns. Of course, I see it the same way. Oh I hope he wins, I really, really do.

I decided to take off the bumper sticker that I have had on my car for a long, long time now. It says, “Imagine no religion” with a rainbow on it. Before Mulan even knew what that meant she knew our car amongst all the other white ones by the rainbow on the back.

Once I got my car serviced and the mechanic gestured towards my bumper sticker and said, “You know some people could take that the wrong way.” I said, “No, I that’s the way I mean it.” He squinted his eyes at me. I was glad my car had already been fixed.

The only thing bad with having an anti-religion sticker on your bumper is when you intentionally or even inadvertently slide in front of someone a wee bit too close or you are speeding ahead or getting around someone and I think they must think, “See, no religion, what a jerk.” But mostly I get positive feedback. I have several times had people gesture to me to get me to roll down my window so they can tell me they feel the same way about religion. Sometimes I am not sure if they are actually taking it the other way, like, how awful would it be with no religion. Anyway, I liked it's abiguity and I liked it's reference to John Lennon too.

Now I say good-bye to it. I loved my rainbow and my “Imagine No Religion.” ( I got it from the Freedom From Religion Foundation at a conference.)

I could have both bumper stickers.

I guess I just want one bumper sticker on my car. When I see people with lots of bumper stickers, I think the stickers better be REALLY funny ones, or they’re nuts.

Now I feel that Obama and I are going steady. I’m committing to him, His sticker will adorn my car.

What's next? A sign on my front lawn?

That's too far and too fast for me and Obama for the time being. Let's just take this one sign at a time. First the car, then possibly the lawn, then - maybe a... T shirt.

Eventually I will send money to the actual campaign. OHGOD, I hate myself! That's terrible. But I can't afford that level of commitment at this very moment.

Oh Barack, can't you just accept my wee bumper sticker for right now? I can see in your eyes you want me to send you actual money, but I am not ready yet, I'm just not ready, darling. Let's talk about it later. Don't pressure me with your great speeches, taunt me with your veiled derisive religious comments. I will fully commit with money eventually, I swear! Just.. for now, let's celebrate the fact that I ordered a bumper sticker from Cafe Press. I know, I know, I didn't order it from your own campaign website. But my darling, Barack, your stickers on your website aren't that great. They have this eighties look to them, the bright blue and everything. I got the one with the peace sign made out of the "O" - that was way cooler, don't you see??

Last Saturday at Mulan’s school they had a “Culture Day Fair.” There were booths all over the playground representing different countries and selling little trinkets to benefit the school. My friends Lesley and Dave managed the China booth and they sold these little red lanterns for one ticket each. Each ticket cost one dollar.

The people running the Korean booth came over to them about half way through the fair and said, “We’re selling the same lanterns but for two tickets each. You have to raise your price.”

Lesley said, “Hey, we represent China! We will not be undersold!” Dave said, “There is no price fixing at this fair!”

The people at the Korean booth slinked away. They didn’t lower their price per lantern, exactly. They began to sell two lanterns for two tickets. You couldn't buy just one lantern.

I loved that. There was so much for Mulan to learn at the fair about business! But she was mostly concerned that her hip-hop dance went off well. (She represented the USA, I guess.)

I noticed though, that some other parents, I think in response to the Chinese booth, had put up a Tibet booth. It had books about the Himalayas and the Dalai Lama, but nothing to sell.

It was a lonely booth.

People just walked by and looked away. Oh yes, Tibet. Yeah. That place. Oh, dear.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

It was a busy week and lots of things are brewing but I can’t talk about them yet.


I can’t stop thinking about all those children taken from the fundamentalist LDS ranch in Texas. I haven’t even read or watched very much about it, I just keep thinking about those kids. They must be so scared. They are taught the outside world is evil, this is a terrible fear they are constantly hearing about and now it’s real and right “out there.” I wonder about the older kids and if it’s too late for them to have any sort of normal life. I think about how many compounds like this one were not found.

I am also thinking about our evolution as a species – an alpha male with several females is part of our genetic heritage. So, think about it. How many communities like this one have there been? Of course, those ones in the past didn’t necessarily have the religious zealotry that this community had… has. But still, it’s a lot to turn over in one’s head. And that’s what I’ve been doing a lot this week.

Also, I think about what I learned from Robert Wright’s “The Moral Animal.” As I told Robert Wright when I met him at the TED conference a few years ago, The Moral Animal fucked me up! It was very profound, and then became the gateway book for me to read all kinds of other socio-biological types of books.

Anyway, Wright argues that enforced monogamy protects men more than women. He asks the reader to imagine a graph where every man and woman are linked as mates. Then he writes (and I would quote him, but I can’t find the book – if you can believe it I still have not re-organized my books after last year’s May 5th filming of Letting Go of God! Argh!) that you should further consider what happens when one of the males links to another female who is exclusive to him too. One man gets two women. Well, there’s a man left out. And so on. So that when a group is comprised of one male who dominates the breeding of several females, then several males are left out. And then he goes on to talk about how detrimental this can be to a society – how less violent men are who are in relationships, etc. Then he goes on to show that women, if they could take a mate that is already mated – or engage in polygamy, she is better off and the children of the first mate are also better off because they are not shunned by the second mate. I don’t it’s theoretically true that women are better off after you are wife number #4, #5, and so on, but still -- it was an amazing theory that I could understand in general and went completely against everything I thought that I thought about this subject!

So, then Wright argues that laws favoring monogamy are really for the benefit of men, those men who would be left un-mated if polygamy were allowed. And monogamy laws are good for society in general, but maybe not so much for that extra female or two a powerful male could acquire if it was lawful. But then he goes on to show that this actually happens anyway, and that rich and powerful men often take a series of wives and have two families or sometimes even three.

In any case, it made me understand polygamy in a new way, and it made me a defender of monogamy in a stronger way too.

Last night Mulan was asking me if the police didn’t sleep and stayed up all night in case something bad happened. What if something happened in the middle of the night and they were asleep? So I was explaining what the “night shift” or the “graveyard shift” was. She was wide-eyed and amazed. And I could tell she was a little bit scared and wanted to know that if something terrible happened, the police would be awake and able to help her.

I think this was because she had just gone over to our neighbors who have a 4 month old baby and she had come home on her own (one house away) and the porch light was burned out. This was her first time to approach her own door in the dark like that. (I was actually watching TV in the living room, ten feet from her, so it wasn’t all that terrifying or unsafe – believe me…) In any case, talking with her about it, seeing this fear of night and not being protected, even the little glimmer of it, made my heart break for all those kids who were taken from that LDS ranch. I mean, of course I think they should have been taken, HAD to have been taken. But they must be terrified. Oh dear, oh dear.

My last thought for this April Saturday morning – and then I have to go wrangle Mulan out of bed – is that I no longer apologize for liking Bravo TV’s “The Real Housewives of New York City.” I am mesmerized. I am totally a Bravo TV supporter at this point. And I even like the new “Step It Up” – the dance reality show. Mulan said last night, after we watched “Step It Up,” “Bravo is like the best channel ever.” That might be true right now. I have no real cable loyalty, but these shows are really impossible not to watch and then actually get sucked into – to the point where I actually know what night it’s on and look forward to it! Curses! I never thought that would happen!

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Okay then, a diary!

Today I cleaned the kitchen. The hard part of the kitchen. I mean the – all those papers and pens and old sticky-notes-with-some-piece-of-important-information-on-it kind of stuff. It was awesome. I am totally into organizing. I love to organize and I can’t keep it up. I completely go through some area and set it up for optimal organization and then let it all slide for six months.

Mulan went through all her old school papers and we reduced it down to 20% of it’s original size. YES!

Now that the Jill and Julia Show is done for the time being, (we think we'll open the show for real in later August or September) I am concentrating on writing my pilot and working on wedding plans. That’s it until the end of May when I am traveling. I am going to this Science Festival in New York at the end of May, just before I do Letting Go of God in Connecticut. I would post what I’m doing there, but it’s a bit up in the air. I should find out the dates for the Seattle Film Festival soon too.

Tonight I’m going to a friend’s house who has a screening room and occasionally has parties. We are going to eat pizza and watch “Bonnie and Clyde” which I haven’t seen since college.

Wow. Charlton Heston died. I didn’t know that until just now. He hosted SNL while I was there and he and Al Franken had the most wonderfully enjoyable contentious relationship. I think they truly enjoyed it too. I really liked Charlton Heston after that.

Things are looking up for the radio show on NPR. Of course most things fall apart, so we will see. But I am feeling pretty good about it. Stars are aligning in this regard!

I loved the comment on my last post about the baptism for a conversion to atheism. The poster asked if salt might be used. That made me laugh. Yes, it’s so funny how we pre-spin the conversation with the way we word things. When Ken Star referred to my lack of belief as a “conversion to atheism” it sets the tone immediately. I think other people have said that to me to and I let it slide. I don’t think I will the next time. I don’t mind the term “de-conversion.” People have said that too. But when you grow up in a religion, there isn’t really a conversion moment like there is described in religious literature or amongst fundamentalists. But I probably spin the conversation revealing my opinion too by how I describe things. I often toss around “critical-thinking-skills” when talking to religious people. And I suppose you could say that by using that particular set of words I am pre-setting my view that the religious abandon their critical thinking skills when it comes to God. I mean, I admit it, I do use that phrase deliberately and pointedly. But I probably wouldn’t use that phrase if I were moderating a panel about religion. I think I would try to use the most neutral words I could. Although I am not complaining. It was really more interesting to me. Curious phrase: Julia’s conversion to atheism.

I am reading “Cool It” right now – Bjorn Lomborg’s book. He also wrote "The Skeptical Environmentalist." The jury is still out in my own mind about his view, but I agree with him that the environmental movement is getting promoted with a lot of misinformation. And while global warming due to human activity appears to be real and accepted by everyone, including Bjorn, (although he didn’t admit this in his previous book) what we do about it is clearly up for debate.

I listened to R.E.M. all day today. I don’t have the new album yet, but I’m getting ready for it by listening to all the old ones. I am still not finished loading all my music on the computer, but I think by the end of the week. I also listened to NPR and “The Splendid Table” about making pasta in Bologna and the show was so delightful I wanted to drop everything and go to Italy.

Mulan has been listening to “Letting Go of God” – the song – the one that Jill Sobule sings (and you can download it from my homepage) and she asked me, “When she sings “Mary looked up yearning” what does that mean, like she looked up “yearning” like she looked up that word in the dictionary?” Absolutely serious, straight faced. Oh! That is awesome.
This has been a very busy week. Although I normally am trying not to turn my blog into a diary, this week I have no over-arching things to get off my chest. So I guess I’ll just post a quick rundown of my week and maybe something interesting will appear.

On Monday I went to USC and participated in a panel discussion about religion. The panelists included Jack Miles who wrote “God, A Biography” which won him a Pulitzer. I've read that book and I really liked it quite a bit. I haven't read his more recent book: “Christ, A Crisis in the Life of God.” But now I really want to. He was quite astonishing at our panel discussion at USC. He arrived on campus straight from the dentist's office, where he had an emergency appointment for a horrible tooth abscess. He was on pain medication for it. He gave an interesting talk on the panel-- about religion as art that inspires; and how precarious our situation is ecologically and that perhaps our only hope is a new kind of religion that makes the Earth’s environment (as habitable for us) the first priority.

Jack does not claim to be an atheist, but I felt from his talk that he sees religion as a human artistic expression and not supernaturally inspired. I was riveted by his comments.

The moderator of the panel was Dr. Kevin Starr, and he is the California State Librarian as well as a professor at USC. He was very sweet but it bothered me that he described my religious views as a “conversion to atheism” twice! That really bugged me but I didn’t get a chance to make a comment about it. "Conversion to atheism" – that’s a good one. That phrase manages to accuse me of being smitten with a crazy idea at the same time it denigrates the religious experience of conversion itself. Amazing.

Oh jeez. I wrote the above a few days ago. Now I’m in my kitchen, home from the Jill and Julia show at the Renberg Theater and wired. We had such a fun time doing the show tonight. I cannot wait for a real run of this show. I love Jill Sobule. What an honor to be on stage with her. And Dave – our bass player, he is great too. He adds just the right third-piece-of-energy to the show. I think we will open a show in late August or September. I am really really happy to be doing this show, it's just a joy to be onstage with Jill.

Oh - I can’t see straight – jeez. More to come.